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Mother Recalls Loss of Son to DUI Accident in Goleta

Mary Ann Moore joins authorities in 'Avoid the 12' DUI enforcement outreach by sharing personal tragedy

Mary Ann Moore speaks about her son, Michael, pictured in the background, who died June 20 in a DUI accident in western Goleta.
Mary Ann Moore speaks about her son, Michael, pictured in the background, who died June 20 in a DUI accident in western Goleta.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Standing in front of the grotesquely mangled car in which her son lost his life, Mary Ann Moore tearfully recalled what it’s been like in the two months since her 26-year-old son died in a drunken-driving accident in western Goleta.

“My family is shattered by this loss,” Moore said Wednesday, noting that her son’s decision to drive with a blood alcohol level at more than twice the legal limit cost him his life.

Michael Moore’s Lexus LS400 was found just before midnight on June 20 in the 7900 block of Hollister Avenue, near Las Armas Road and Sandpiper Golf Club.

Firefighters managed to extricate Michael Moore from the wreckage but he was pronounced dead after arriving at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Senior Deputy Jeff Farmer said that Michael Moore had spent the day with friends at the beach and chose to drive home, which was about two miles away from where his vehicle was found.

“A combination of alcohol, speed and no seatbelt kept him from reaching his destination,” Farmer said.

Michael Moore was going about 80 mph on Hollister near Cathedral Oaks when he lost control of his car and struck a tree, authorities said. 

His destroyed vehicle stationed outside of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday was a sobering reminder to the public to think twice about drinking and driving. 

The Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday that it would be starting a period of increased enforcement for driving under the influence in the time leading up to Labor Day weekend, and Moore’s mother’s testimony was a reminder that choices to drink and get behind the wheel can have tragic consequences.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office displayed the car in which 26-year-old Michael Moore died June 20 in a DUI-related crash in western Goleta. Click to view larger
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office displayed the car in which 26-year-old Michael Moore died June 20 in a DUI-related crash in western Goleta. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Before taking the podium, Moore paused in front a picture of her smiling son, touching his photo with her fingertips.

“He was a great kid,” she said. “He was a good boy, and I’m going to miss him, and so is my family.”

Moore said that her son made the decision to get in the car that night even though she had told him — since the day he received his driver’s license — to call her if he had ever been drinking.

“Since he got his driver’s license I had told him, ‘Call me, I’ll come get you, do not get in that car when you’ve been drinking,’” she recalled.

Speaking up would be worth it to prevent another mother from being “woken up in the middle of the night by your brother and the sheriff, to tell you your son’s not coming home ever again,” she said.

Sheriff Bill Brown and District Attorney Joyce Dudley also spoke, urging people not to get behind the wheel after drinking.

Brown said that drug- and alcohol-related traffic incidents have been on the increase in recent years, and the increased enforcement would be funded by the “Avoid the 12” grant from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The name of the grant encourages people to avoid a DUI from any of the 12 participating agencies in Santa Barbara County that will be conducting various checkpoints and traffic enforcement. 

The agencies include the Sheriff’s Department; the California Highway Patrol; police departments in Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Santa Maria, Guadalupe, UCSB and Allan Hancock College; the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; the California State Parks and Recreation Department; California Forest Service Enforcement Division and the 30th Securities Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Mary Ann Moore hugs Senior Deputy Jeff Farmer during Wednesday’s announcement of Avoid the 12 enforcement. Click to view larger
Mary Ann Moore hugs Senior Deputy Jeff Farmer during Wednesday’s announcement of Avoid the 12 enforcement.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

In addition to increased patrols, at least seven additional checkpoints will be held across the county, and about 15 DUI saturation patrols from Aug. 21 to Sept. 7.

Farmer, who is coordinating the Avoid the 12 effort, said that the county still has a huge number of arrests in spite of the education effort in recent years.

One-third of all traffic fatalities in the United States involve drivers impaired by alcohol, Farmer said, adding that more than 10,000 people across the nation were killed in these types of crashes in 2013.

One in five child passenger deaths were in drunken-driving crashes, he said.

The median blood alcohol level of someone convicted of DUI in 2012 was 0.16 percent, which is twice the level at which a person is considered drunk under the law, he said.

“I guarantee you, that’s more than two beers,” he said.

When law enforcement stops a driver for a violation, Farmer said, the most typical response from drivers is that they’ll ask if they can get a warning.

“I want to explain to everybody that their warning is coming right now and if they are stopped… they will be arrested,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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